By Lisbet Esmael

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 25) — PLDT, Inc.’s aviation arm Pacific Global One Aviation or PG1 is seeing a surge in demand for its air charter services as companies look for private flights amid COVID-19 fears.

In a statement issued by PLDT on Thursday, PG1 showed optimism the air charter business would thrive in the next three years, citing a report from market research firm Technavio.

Based on Technavio report, the global air charter services market is expected to grow by over $7 billion through 2024 to be propelled by passenger segment. Demand for air cargo services is also seen to pick up.

“We have been getting a lot of inquiries, especially from corporations, on our air transport services,” Leo A. Gonzales, PGQ OIC-President, was quoted as saying in the statement.

This as companies explore “a safer way to travel as the government gradually eases restrictions and opens up the economy,” Gonzales added.

PG1 has also taken the advantage to boost its service offerings during the pandemic. Aside from ferrying business travelers, it has started accommodating medical evacuations, and transport essential personnel and cargo to critical areas.

Currently, the PG1 hangar in Pasay City houses two helicopters and one airplane. The Bell 429 can seat five passengers and can fly from Manila to as far as Laoag up north or Cebu down south, while the AgustaWestland AW139 is a medium-sized helicopter that can carry eight passengers to Luzon and the Visayas from the capital.

The firm also operates a twin-engine turboprop, the King Air 350, which can fly eight passengers to all domestic points with airfields of at least a kilometer long, as well as Asian destinations including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.

The global health crisis has forced airlines to conduct massive job cuts to keep afloat as travel restrictions continue to be implemented to lessen the virus’ blow.

In the Philippines alone, thousands of employees of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific were affected by the companies’ retrenchment programs.